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Stadium delay could be a blessing in disguise for FAU

The Florida Atlantic University Owls new football stadium has been delayed and probably won't be ready until the fall of 2011, a year after the original target date. But that might be a blessing in disguise.

“Were still pushing forward,” said Craig Angelos, FAU's athletic director who had a trick up his sleeve that could generate a lot of extra money for construction.

According to Angelos, final cost projections should be prepared by March, with ground breaking set for April. And if all goes according to the latest plan, the stadium will be ready for the start of the 2011 season in September that year.

As part of the plan, FAU has been seeking to raise some $12 million through naming rights, sponsorships and advertising. Officials say good progress has been made.

But the delay will affect the Owls' football schedule, and that's actually where the good news comes in.

Without the new stadium, next year’s first home game for the Owls will actually be a potential lucrative away game. The Owls will play at Ford Field in Detroit against Michigan State instead of finding an alternate location in South Florida.

The idea was hatched after Angelos attended the Final Four basketball tournament last year and saw that the Michigan State fans supported their team with vigor. Moving the game back to Michigan could bring in extra money to help pay for the stadium, Angelos figured.

The contract signed in 2005 stipulated that FAU would to pay Michigan State $150,000 to play the game in South Florida. But because the game being played at Ford Field will be an FAU home game, the Owls will take in all the revenues minus the $150,000.

If the Michigan State stadium sells out, FAU could make up to $2.5 million.

“You want to have momentum moving toward the new stadium,” Angelos said. Administrators said the extra money certainly would create that momentum.

Students were thrilled that FAU would bring in extra money from the Michigan State game to help pay for the Owls' stadium.

“Anything to get that stadium up,” said Ronnie Margolin, 21, education major from Boca Raton. “I feel like I have been waiting forever.”

If the stadium does open in 2011, it will come at a historic time – the last year of veteran head coach Howard Schnellenberger’s contract.




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